The Veterans of Foreign Wars salutes the life of former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia), who passed away last Sunday at the age of 76.

Isakson began his life of public service as an Air National Guardsman in his native state of Georgia from 1966 to 1972. He served as a state representative and senator before he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1999, and later to the U.S. Senate in 2005. Isakson was a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, becoming the committee chairman in 2015. One of his lasting achievements was the passing of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 before resigning his Senate seat for health reasons later that year.

“The veteran community lost one of its champions yesterday,” said VFW National Commander Matthew “Fritz” Mihelcic on Monday. “Senator Isakson worked hard on legislation that expanded toxic exposure presumptions and ensured veterans and their families received the care and benefits they deserved. On behalf of the entire 1.5 million-member VFW family, we send our deepest condolences to Sen. Isakson’s family and friends. May he rest in eternal peace.”

Wreaths Across America

Each December on National Wreaths Across America Day, our mission to Remember, Honor and Teach is carried out by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at more than 2,500 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad. On Dec. 18 our community gathered at the Exeter Veterans Cemetery to honor our fallen. This year we graced 2,500 graves of the 28,000 veterans whose final resting place is at this cemetery. We are hopeful for next year to increase the number of wreaths to honor our fallen. Thank you to all who participated in this solemn event.

Post 8955

Memorial Day and Veterans Day mark the time that the members of the Amancio-Falcone-Gaccione Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8955 conduct their Buddy Poppy drive throughout the community of Westerly. These poppies serve as a reminder of lives sacrificed in the First World War and subsequent conflicts. The first national-level Buddy Poppy drive was conducted by the VFW in 1922. The red poppy was adopted as the official memorial flower of the VFW shortly thereafter. The donations collected through the poppy drive are used to fund programs for veterans.

A few weeks ago, members of Post 8955 were stationed throughout our community seeking donations for our annual Buddy Poppy drive. On behalf of the members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8955, I would like to give a sincere thank you to everyone who so graciously contributed to our drive. Your heartfelt contributions will return to our community to assist all veterans and their families, who have given selfless service to our country.

Post 8955 will be celebrating its 75th Diamond Anniversary on Feb. 2, 2022. The celebration will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a brief ritual followed by a dinner. We will meet at the Elks Lodge, 1 Dixon St., Westerly. All Post members are encouraged to attend to participate in this momentous event.

VFW welcomes all who meet our eligibility criteria. It’s through service to this country that all our membership has earned their elite status. If you have received a campaign medal for overseas service; have served 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days in Korea; or have ever received hostile fire or imminent danger pay, then you’re eligible to join our ranks.

New members are always welcome to attend our next monthly meeting on Jan. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at our Post Home, 113 Beach St., Westerly. Meetings are the first Wednesday of each month. If you know of a veteran or family of a veteran in distress, please contact Comrade Dora Vasquez-Hellner, 401-212-6377, for assistance.

This day in military history

1944: On Leyte, part of the U.S. 77th Division makes an amphibious move from Ormoc to San Juan, on the west coast of the island, north of Palompon, where the Japanese forces are concentrated. The landing is unopposed. General MacArthur announces that the Leyte campaign has ended with Japanese losses totaling 113,221.

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